As his new series goes to air, Michael Theo opens up about acting, Billie Piper and whether he’s found love

‘I love making people laugh.'
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Michael Theo went on Love On The Spectrum in the hope of fulfilling his dream of finding a girlfriend. But it’s helped him achieve one of his other dreams: becoming an actor. 

“I have always wanted to be an actor, ever since early childhood,” Michael tells TV WEEK. “I love making people laugh, as it gives me a sense of purpose.”

Michael applied and starred on Love On The Spectrum.
(Image: Supplied)

Producer/director Darren Ashton watched the reality series about young adults on the autism spectrum and was blown away by Michael’s screen presence. He cast him in kids’ series Hardball, and, believing Michael could carry a series on his own, he and Death In Paradise star Ben Miller teamed up to create Austin. It’s the story of a young neurodivergent man, Austin, who meets his father Julian, played by Ben, for the first time, just as Julian’s life is imploding. Michael is a script consultant on the series.

“Austin is a very wholesome character who is inspired by me,” Michael says, “and that being said is a badge of honour for me.”

There are quirks of Michael’s that have been incorporated into Austin’s character, like stirring his lemonade before drinking it because he doesn’t like bubbles. But the similarities between Michael and Austin go much deeper.

Michael pursues his acting career in Austin.
(Image: Supplied)

“There are definitely parts of myself in him, such as brutal honesty and thinking in depth,” he says. 

In the series, Austin travels to London with Julian and gets to meet actress Billie Piper, who Michael says is “a pleasure to work with”.

“I’m a fan of her early work as a singer,” he explains. “I may not be a Doctor Who fan, but I was impressed by her performance. If I was given the chance to work with her again, I would jump at it!”

Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones’s Diary), who plays Julian’s wife, Ingrid, in the series, believes Michael is “completely brilliant”.

He hasn’t found love yet!
(Image: Supplied)

“He was way better than us, I felt, often,” she tells TV WEEK. “In true Aussie fashion, there was just no drama about it at all. He didn’t realise he was the lead. And if you asked him how he was doing, if he was managing, he’d go, ‘Oh, it’s just much better than my other job.’ He used to do door finishing.”

My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Gia Carides, who plays Austin’s mum, Mel, says it was “an honour” to act opposite Michael in his first major scripted role.

“I’m sure he will work so much in the future,” she adds. “He’s so talented. He’s a real natural and it will always be very special to me that I got to play his first screen mum.”

Michael, who recently turned 30, appeared in the first season of Love On The Spectrum in 2019 and then returned for a second season in 2021. He says it was “really surprising” to become well-known from the show.

“I never expected this to happen, but it did. I enjoy the attention, but I keep myself grounded.”

Women from “all around the world, actually” have contacted him after seeing the series, which aired internationally on Netflix. 

“Some I did meet and went on dates with and others have become new friends,” he says. “I’m always on the lookout for new friends.”

However, he hasn’t yet found love. 

“I enjoy the attention.”
(Image: Supplied)

“I am still on the quest for love and doing my best to put myself out there.”

Michael says acting is “one of the things I live for”. He’s hoping for more jobs after Austin, and wants to work in all genres, except slashers and thrillers.

“I consider myself a comedic actor, as comedy is my forte, but I have the potential for roles in genres such as drama, adventure, romance, historical, fantasy and many others,” he says. 

“However, I will never, ever decline a return to [playing] Austin! That role is very important to me and I intend to stay in that role until the very end.”

Austin airs Sunday, 8pm, ABC.

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